Roman cuisine is simple and sophisticated at the same time, like a beautiful woman or a handsome man with a lot of charm, a substantial style that is seductive but not deceiving, attractive but downright honest and direct. Roman cuisine has a tradition with its roots well planted into the necessity of creating great tasty dishes with little and local ingredients, a tradition that of course has during the years been contaminated, in a good way, with other regional experiences. It has developed to the level of a gastronomical experience that is internationally appreciated. Just, sometimes, when in Rome you need to know where to go. So here it is a brief excursus of the places where you can stop after you Rome tours.
There’s no shortage of good pizza in Rome, but be aware that it’s usually extremely thin and crispy. If you really want to fill up on pizza, you’ll have to head down south to Naples, where pizza tends to be thick and doughy.
Romans tend to go out for pizza in the evenings – it’s not really a lunchtime thing, and many of the best pizzerias will be closed at lunch. Head to the famous Da Remo (Piazza di Santa Maria Liberatrice 44) in Testaccio, renowned for its delicious pizza and old-school Roman atmosphere, or nearby Il Grottino (Via Marmorata 165), which also offers a pizza alta option (in the Neapolitan style) for those who prefer a more substantial softy pizza.
If you’re craving pizza during the day, either for lunch or a snack, try pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice). Pizzarium Bonci (Via della Meloria 43) is generally agreed to make the best pizza al taglio in Rome, but pizza chain Alice is also reliably good, with conveniently located branches all over central Rome.
Of course, you can get excellent pasta all over Italy, but when in Rome, do as the Romans do and order a local speciality – carbonara, amatriciana or cacio e pepe. Carbonara is made with eggs, cheese, bacon and black pepper; spaghetti is the most traditional pasta. Amatriciana uses guanciale (pork cheese) tomato, pecorino cheese, and is usually served with spaghetti or bucatini. Vegetarians can opt for cacio e pepe, a simple dish made with heaps of pecorino cheese and black pepper, and spaghetti-esque pasta like tonnarelli or tagliolini.
Da Danilo (Via Petrarca 13) in Esquilino and Da Enzo (Via dei Vascellari 29) in Trastevere are both highly rated for their carbonara. Da Felice (Via Mastro Giorgio 29) and Flavio al Velavevodetto (Via di Monte Testaccio 97), both in Testaccio, do mouth-wateringly delicious cacio e pepe as well as other traditional Roman pasta dishes.
Alternatively, we recommend Trattoria dell’Omo (Via Vicenza 18) for its ravioli, gnocchi and cosy atmosphere, and Osteria al 16 (Via del Boschetto 16) in Monti for its never-ending pasta menu. Looking for lasagna? Try La Tavernaccia (Via Giovanni da Castel Bolognese 63), which is located in a distinctly un-touristy part of Trastevere, and popular with the locals for its authentic Roman cuisine.
Rome has a tradition of quinto quarto (fifth quarter) cuisine – in other words, offal. Slaughterhouse workers were often paid with a share of the offal, and working-class Romans could only afford the cheapest parts of the meat, so they made the most with what they had, inventing dishes such as coda alla vaccinara (oxtail stew), rigatoni alla pajata (pasta with calf intestines) and trippa (tripe).
As the location of the ex-slaughterhouse, Testaccio is the place to go for this kind of cooking. Da Bucatino (Via Luca della Robbia 84) and Augustarello (Via Giovanni Branca 100) are particularly good, but pretty much any restaurant in Testaccio will have quinto quarto on the menu. The local market even has a popular stall specializing in meaty Roman panini, Mordi e Vai. If you are walking around Campo de Fiori stop at Aristocampo and try Porchetta di Ariccia panini.
GELATO & GRATTACHECCA
The golden rules: avoid anything that looks obviously artificial, like unnaturally green pistachio and neon yellow lemon, and steer clear of places where the gelato is piled high, as that means it’s probably been pumped with chemicals to keep it solid. If you find a gelateria offering seasonal flavours and naturally coloured gelato that doesn’t rise above the rim of its container, that’s usually a good sign. Most gelato in Rome is good gelato, but some gelaterie are definitely above average: Fassi (Via Principe Eugenio 65), Gelateria La Romana (Via Cola di Rienzo 2, Via Ostiense 48), Gelateria del Teatro (Via dei Coronari 65) and Panna & Co (Via Marmorata 115).
A refreshing Roman alternative to gelato, usually available only in the summer months, is grattachecca. Made with shaved ice and syrup, grattachecca can be found at various kiosks dotted around the city centre. Go for a stroll along the Trastevere stretch of the Lungotevere and you’ll find the famous kiosks Alla Fonte d’Oro and Sora Mirella.
FOOD TOURS IN ROME
If you want to take a food tour in Rome you have many options, but for something special you might want to try Local Aromas, a 100% Italian family run business, with one particular thing about it: a unique 90-minute formula. Local Aromas have a wide range of 90-minute tasting tours that allow you to try different things in one day. All tours are under 60 euros per person and run, consecutively, every day so that you can take as many as you want. All tours are guided by trained experts and professional sommeliers highly knowledgeable and passionate about food & wine. We had a wonderful food experience in Rome with Local Aromas.